coalkirk wrote:I'm not a scientist and don't even play one on TV so I must be missing some law of physics here. How can the water level in the Chesapeake bay possibly rise faster (or slower) than the level of any other water connected to it like the ocean?
Wind. Higher than average rainfall. More flow out of any dams on rivers and tributaries entering the bay. Don't know if any of those are in play in this Chesapeake Bay example, but they all can have a significant impact from year to year.
Yanche wrote:Sure some researchers do, but a consensus of independent researchers usually gets it right. The key is independent and where they are getting their research money. It can all to easily be like the drug research paid for by the drug manufactures. Especially troublesome when the companies get to edit the report. I tend to look with a cautious eye, but usually trust the mundane reports containing the underlying data.
I had a teacher at college that used to work for the NSF on environmental concerns predominantly. He reviewed research proposals, worked on selection and budgeting committees, etc. Also did his fair share of environmental oriented research in his PhD and teaching career. He candidly admitted that there is almost no science (except for so called "hard" sciences like chemistry and physics and math) that can be considered "independent". Of course people are quick to call into question research funded or carried out by corporate entities, particularly those in the energy business (evil polluters! get the pitch forks!). A lot of people erroneously consider federal grants and university funded research to be independent, but the truth is that that money is controlled by a political apparatus at every level. Universities exist as corporate entities, departments function within a budget and with certain expectations. To meet all these expectations the type of research, the theories proposed and advanced for funding, and the choice of people such as research leads all are heavily influenced by these political forces, ultimately resulting in a lot of research and process being bent to satisfy those forces.
The politics at play at the university level are often more along the lines of seniority, visibility afforded to the school by the research, perceived aptitude vis-a-vis the culture of the department or school and how a proposal or lead researcher "fits" into that school of thought, etc. It also extends into more left/right politics as one considers the need for research to appeal to an agency staffed by appointees of a political apparatus (executive and/or congress), operating under a political administration or congressional mandate and budget process and often operating out of D.C. or other highly political environments.
Even peer review and journal publication only gives a limited amount of "confidence" in the work product given that the reviewers are often committed to theories and methodologies of their own, influencing both what is considered worthy of publication and the results of the review processes. Journals, like any publication, also cater to an audience and need to make financial sense, forced that can limiting what is selected and published. Selection and review processes generally are "open" in the same way that the budget process is "open" in congress. Some elements of it are open and known to the public, but a lot of it is behind the scenes and if not exactly secret it is reasonably called "guarded", just as the editorial and story selection/budgeting (as in space) process is at newspapers.
In the end you get science that may have a lot of numbers, and tables, and graphs and facts in it, but "truth" as represented by conclusions, findings, context, and choice of methodology are often compromised and tainted by the political forces that gave birth to the effort and which will be approached to give birth to the next research project.
Where's that leave us lowly citizens being asked to make choices in leadership and policies? Basically up the creek, if you're interested in making the choice based principly on facts or truth. Best bet has been and continues to be to choose those whom you believe have the right balance of the qualities you care most about, whom you believe will make the right choices at the right times for the right reasons given flawed information, competing interests and a unpredictable world.
Sorry for the rant.